CHAPTER 1 THE CLEANER "A lot of things can be judged by one question. All it depends is who is asking who and what. Please pay attention to my words, I do not repeat myself. My name is not to be told until further notice, and where we are will not be uncovered until I judge so. Are you ready to comply? " My name is Atlas DeWitt. I am a cleaner. I clean whoever is needed by whoever wants whoever cleaned. I served in the Soviet Special Forces until the end of the USSR, when I decided to move to Bulgaria.
I tried to have a normal life. I started working at a meat factory as the cleaner. One day, while walking back home from work, I discovered what I was always meant to be. A Cleaner. It was midnight. I was walking in the cold and dark alley with a slow pace, admiring the cool breeze after the rain.
It was then I noticed a woman walking further in front of me. She was dressed very lightly, and I thought she was a prostitute. But she was walking with an unnatural step. Like she was afraid of something. I reached my jacket pocket to grab a cigarette. While I was lighting up, I noticed that the woman's steps had stopped. I lifted my head and saw a man with a gun aiming at the woman, asking for anything valuable on her. I kept walking like nothing was happening mere meters away from me.
Then I heard the woman plea that the money she was carrying was to buy food for her son and clothes to keep him warm. I felt pity about her at first. Moments after, only thing I was feeling was the blood running down from my hand as I had put away the mugger with a swift motion of my pocket knife.
The woman had frozen in place. I reached my wallet, grabbed the day's payment and decided to give it to her.
I then walked home like nothing happened. That night, I couldn't sleep. My head was buzzing. Not about the fact that I killed a man, but because I did it instinctively.
I did it with no feel whatsoever. The next day I left my job without grabbing my payment. I returned home, I pry opened the wooden floor in my house and grabbed a case. I took it and changed the rest of my life.
The case had an old Soviet hunting rifle. It was the same rifle I had used in taking down countless of lives as a soldier. Now, I was on my way to return to that life. --- I was feeling the cold in the air. I opened a beer can and took a sip. I then lifted my rifle, and took aim. I waited long. The place of the rain had now been taken by snow.
Hours had passed. Suddenly the target appeared. I pressed the trigger. Pulled the bolt, chambered another round, and fired again. Two bullets. Four enemies down. Suddenly the target was all alone. He looked stunned, like he just saw a miracle happened. Maybe he did. I quickly shouldered the rifle, the same old Baikal I had, and rushed to secure the target. I pulled my pistol out, and aimed at the target.
I approached, and took the bag out of his head. Or should I say, her head. "What, surprised to see a woman in this business?" said the woman in a Russian accent. I grabbed her by her tied hands and guided her to my Niva. I put her in the backseat, and hopped in the driver's seat.
--- The room was dark, with little light entering through a small opening at the top. There were rats reeking on the floor, and water running on the walls. "A lot of things can be judged by one question. All it depends is who is asking who and what. Please pay attention to my words, I do not repeat myself.
My name is not to be told until further notice, and where we are will not be uncovered until I judge so. Are you ready to comply?" "Yes" "I want you to tell me what I want to hear. I want you to tell me the exact information. I will judge, and if I approve, you live." "What are you asking me about?" "I do not repeat myself." "I don't know what to tell you, I don't know anything about Dimitrovshkiv" "I never talked about Dimitrovshkiv" Silence… "Alright.
He is hiding out in the Skepova Fortress. That's all I know" "You know more" "I swear I don't! That's all I know!" A click was heard… "He is carrying the cargo with him! He has an army of bodyguards protecting him! Godonov will be there to sign the deal!" "Good girl" "Does that mean you will let me go?" "Ofcourse" I walked out of the room. I cleaned my boots from the blood, and closed the door. I could already hear the rats feasting, but I did not care.
I walked to the car, and started for the job that would get me to retirement once and for all. --- I was driving alongside a river, going down a mountain side. The sun was shining and the birds were singing their most beautiful song. I killed the engine. I stepped out of my car, and opened up a can of beer I had at the door. I admired the scene of the forest on one side of the river, and the plains of the other.
It was like two worlds coming together, with the river as the bridge.
I also noticed a squirrel going up a tree, collecting nuts to feed his children probably. Or himself. I could have sat there listening to the sound of the leaves for hours, but I had to get back home. I threw the can into the trash can I kept in the backseats, and got in the car. I kept going until I found a dirt road leading to the high way.
I entered the National, and kept going. --- The radio was playing a classic old Greek song. The sun had long layed down, and the moon had risen. The clock of my phone said 3:24AM. I was barely keeping awake, until I saw a figure at the side of the road. I kept going. I saw it was a person, waving his hand for an auto stop. I thought to myself that if things had gone a bit different some time ago, I could have been in his position.
I stopped the car and opened the door for the man to get in. "Hey there bud. Where are you heading for?" A weak, little voice sounded from beneath the covers. After taking off some of the head rugs, the face of a woman appeared. "Somewhere warm please." "Hop in quick. I got some coffee in that thermos. Take it, it's still hot. My house is a few kilometres from here. You can stay at mine for the night, except if you want me to take you to a hotel" "Thanks you very much.
I don't want to make you waste much money, so take me to your house. By the morning I will have left" "Don't worry about me wasting money.
Just tell me where you will fell more comfortly." "There's no need for you sir to rent me a room, I will just sleep at a corner at your house, and leave by the morning." "If you insist." We kept going, and exited the National, entering the Ring Road. --- We were navigating in the practically empty roads of the city. As I drove the car in front of an apartment building, I stopped and got in the parking lot.
Along with my guest, we got in the building and stepped in the elevator. We rised to the third floor and got inside a small flat, ideal for a college student or someone more introverted. "Voila, here's my little apartment. It isn't big, but it won't have a problem accommodating us both." "Thank you very much, Mr." "Just call me Atlas." "Got you, Atlas." "You?" "Kate" "Well, Kate, there's hot water in the bath, so you can shower.
I got towels in the drawer and a new shampoo on the shelf." "Thanks again." After 5 minutes I heard the bath door slowly open. I then heard Kate calling me. "Hey, what's the issue?" I asked through the merely opened door.
"I'm so sorry for bugging you again, but I don't have a second set of clothes to wear. Not clean, at least. Could you give me some old clothes of yours, please?" "Sure thing. If I had thought earlier I'd have already given you some." After half a minute I returned, giving Kate the clothes. She took them, closed the door and then dressed. When she got out, I was left stunned.
Her slim body looked amazing in those slim black jeans, and the sleeveless shirt was just a bit too baggy. What really took my attention though was her beautiful blue eyes, which were like jewels behind her magnificent red hair.
"Uhh, there wasn't need to give me such good clothes, just an old t-shirt and sweatpants would have been nice. I mean thank you, but these jeans and the shirt look like brand new." "They're clothes from since I was in high school. I was a little smaller then, so I guessed they would fit you. Plus I would have thrown them away next week." "Thanks you again for doing all this. I'm grateful." "Don't say a word. Anyone would have done it if he was in my position.
For now, I readied up my bed for you. I'll sleep on the couch. Go get some rest, we'll talk more tomorrow." I walked to the living room, and got ready to sleep. I had to get rest, as tomorrow I had to finish my job, and see what to do with Kate. --- The smell of freshly baked pancakes and just made orange juice were filling the air. Kate got up from her bed, and when she got in the the kitchen, her jaw dropped to the floor. "Hey, sleepy princess.
Got a good rest?" "You didn't have to do all this!
It's too much! I mean, thank you but I'm putting you to so many expenses! And yes, I slept nice. Your bed is sooo comfy." "Oh, I eat everyday like this. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You really didn't put me out of my way. Come on, let's sit down." After having eaten their breakfast, Atlas asked Kate. "Hey, so what happened and you ended up asking for auto stop?" "Oh, well, it's a long story.
I've been homeless for 3 years, and I'm constantly travelling around, trying to hitch rides so I can get to somewhere warmer, or less dangerous." "Oh, I'm sorry to hear.
I guess life must have been harsh with you. Anyways, fear not. From today, things are going to change. I got to do some errands, so while I am away, feel free to open the television or get on my computer. Plenty of food on the fridge too, so I guess you should be right. See ya later!" --- I got my keys and entered my car, getting ready to finish this damn job, and say hello to retiring for the rest of my life.
I drove till an alleyway behind an old storage warehouse. I parked my Niva just in front of a garage door. It suddenly opened up. "Hey, Vladi! Good to see you!" "Atlas, my boy! How are you? You here for that job?" "Exactly. Let's get working, and in the end we might have enough to buy cigarettes!" I started unloading the crates from the car. 5 crates full of 500 Euro bills. As soon as I opened the first one, Vladi's jaw got dislocated on it's own.
"Where did you get all these again?" "I told you already. The job with Godonov." "What did you sell him and he gave you all that? The Mount Everest made of cocaine?" "Oh, a lot simpler.
I gave him a bullet. To the head. Without it's shell. And coming from inside my Baikal's barrel. He had around a hundred more crates. I secured them and they will be washed after we are finished with these ones." "My friend, we are going to be filthy rich with those!" "We sure will, Vlad. We sure will. Now, let's get to work." After two hours of countless counting, we had finally sorted away the first crate.
Now the rest was easy. In this room, 30 million euros were stacked, ready to be taken to the bank. The rest of the crates would be received immediately by the bank's associates. In total, they were worth 330 million euros. Enough for many lifetimes.
But for now, I had to check on Kate. "Hey, Vlad. I gotta look at something at house, and then I will come in the truck to load them and take them to the banka. Get yourself a beer, you deserve it." I got in my car, and drove to my house. I entered through the door, only to hear the television play some kind of gossip show.
I entered the room, but Kate wasn't in there. Then, I noticed it. A trail of blood was on the floor. I quickly unholstered my 1911 and followed the trail. It was heading to the kitchen area. The door was closed. I braced myself, and barged in rolling to face the intruder.
Only to find out Kate cooking, and being terrified at the sight of my gun. I quickly holstered it. "WHOAAAAA IS THAT A GUN?" "Relax, I thought an intruder had broken in. There was a blood trail from the living room to here!" "I was trying to make a surprise for you by cooking pasta with tomato sauce!" "Wait, so that was tomato sauce?" "Yeah, I went in the living room so I could change the channel to my favourite TV show" "Oh well, you scared me good with this.
Please don't do it again." "Ok." "And., thanks for cooking. But we got a job to take care. And after that a surprise for you. Come on, let's get to the car." We went to the car, and started driving. "So, why would you be carrying a gun? And what move was that, barging in like that? Are you a policeman or something?" "Well, first I own a gun for safety, and second no I'm not a policeman. I just really liked my time in the army." We reached the destination, an old junkyard.
We drove between the broken down cars and reached to a covered vehicle. I got out and uncovered it. It was the truck. "Hey, Kate. Get here.
We're continuing with this one from now on. Kill the engine and bring me the keys from the car please." "Positive, Sir!" She said, mocking me saying I was in the military. " Oh come on, I wasn't in there that much. Just the obligatory." "Whatever you say, Sir!" She kept giggling. We got in the truck and drove to the bank.
Vladi was waiting us there, along with 2 security guards and the manager of the bank.
"So, what's going on here?" Kate asked. "I thought of depositing some money to the bank, before I buy you brand new clothes." "You're gonna do what?!" "Shhh. Let me finish the job, and I'll come back to talk. In the meanwhile, think what you want." I got off the truck, and met with the manager.
"Hey, Mr. DeWitt. I talked with Mr. Aslanov here already, he told me about making a deposit of a few millions. Where's the suitcase?" "The suitcase? What suitcase?" "Where you have the money sir. Also, I believe it's proper to say that in order to keep things in the lines of law, I take 16% of the deposit to justify the money.
Otherwise you will have the government on you before you take another breath." "Well, let me give you the money then." I went to the back of the truck, and started unloading duffle bag after duffle bag full of cash. The manager's face was a mixture of amazement, surprise and jealousness. "So, here's 30 million in clean 500 euro bills. So, your gains will be 3 millions." "But that's doesn't make 16%." "Of course it doesn't.
I'm reducing it your cut to 10%. Or I can take my millions and find a more cooperative bank." "Well, I'm sure we can reach a middle ground on this, sir. 13%." "Looks like I lost my money on gas to get to your bank." "Alright, 11%. My best offer!" "Now we're talking. I'll send the rest by helicopter. Your guys should be able to handle them, right?" "Wait, there are more?" "300 million, as a matter of fact." "Sir, what exactly is your occupation that earns you such gains?" "I am a cleaner.
A very expensive one." With that I closed the conversation and returned to the truck. It was now time to take care of Kate. "Huh, Atlas, may I ask a thing?" "Sure thing." "I didn't see you go to the ATM, or give money to the guy. How exactly did you deposit the money?" "Oh, simple.
The bank's guards unloaded them from the truck." "Unloaded? What do you mean?" "I mean they came, opened the back, took the money in carts and left." "Carts? How much did you deposit?" "30 million" "WHAT?!" "What, did you want us running around with so much cash in the back of the truck?" "No, I didn't mean that, I mean 30 MILLION?
How did you get that?" "By hard work of course. Anyways, we got clothes to buy for you, and the stores are closing in 6 hours." "I think 6 hours are enough honestly" "Not if you're shopping with me. Second reason we took this truck was so we could carry your new clothes." "I don't know how to say thank you.
You're amazing." "I'm just trying to help as best as I can. And as of now, I can help a lot." "Thanks a lot" END OF CHAPTER 1 THE CLEANER